Fulton County Residents recognized in WKCTC's Regional Educators Award Program
Fulton County High School Principal Ellen Murphy receives top honor
- (right) Ellen Murphy, Fulton County High School principal, receives the top Distinguished Administrator Award from WKCTC President Anton Reece
- (left) Kathy Aileen Thweatt, Fulton High School science teacher, receives finalist award from WKCTC President Anton Reece
- (left) Dianne Owen, executive director of the Four Rivers Foundation, with WKCTC President Anton Reece
PADUCAH, KY (03/18/2018) The crowd of supporters who came to cheer on their nominee in the Distinguished Administrator category of the inaugural Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program at West Kentucky Community and Technical College March 15 erupted with applauds when her name was called as the winner.
Fulton County High School Principal Ellen Murphy, one of five nominees in the Distinguished Administrator category, was touched and honored to receive the ultimate award.
"I'm honored because it's not just about me, and I say that all the time. It's about this group of people that are here tonight supporting me," Murphy said. "My staff - I have an amazing staff. I have an amazing central office staff. We have an amazing area technology center. My Four Rivers foundation and also WKCTC. We work together as a team and that's what it's all about and that's who I accept this award on behalf of tonight. It's about all of us working together for the students of our community."
More than 200 educators, family, friends, and students were on hand to cheer and recognize the 28 nominees in the awards program. Deserving faculty and sta from throughout the Jackson Purchase were nominated for awards in four categories: distinguished faculty for grades pre-kindergarten through ve, distinguished faculty for grades six through 12, distinguished administrators, and the Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Sta Award, named for the wife of WKCTC President Anton Reece.
"Tonight, we honor the educators who go above and beyond their daily responsibilities and play a tremendous role in the shaping of education in our region," said co-emcee Lee Emmons, WKCTC's vice president of institutional advancement. "We honor the vital role all our educators, administrators, sta, and supporters play in education."
The awards and scholarship program was established in August 2017 to recognize pre-kindergarten through high school educators, administrators and staff members who have gone beyond their daily responsibilities and have worked tirelessly on behalf of students, parents and the community in WKCTC's service region, which includes Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall, McCracken, Livingston and Lyon counties in Kentucky and Alexander, Hardin, Massac, Pope, and Pulaski in Illinois.
More than 40 faculty, staff and administrators were nominated by students, parents, community members, and colleagues. Each nominee was then asked to submit an application. Twenty-eight applications were then reviewed by a selection committee made up of educators, business and community leaders who selected two finalists and a winner in each of four categories.
In conjunction with the awards program, a scholarship for WKCTC students interested in K-12 teaching or educational support majors has been established to encourage and assist the region's future educators. Area businesses and organizations have donated to establish the scholarship.
Featured speaker Dr. Lucian Yates, III, said he was glad he was a not a judge who had to select a winner from the nominees. Using the "Ides of March" as a theme throughout his speech, Dr. Yates praised the work of the educators, administrators, staff and their supporters. "From this day forward, on this Ides of March, we will not allow anyone to denigrate or dog-out our schools and our teachers and our administrators," Dr. Yates said. "We will stand tall in the saddle for the best public school systems in the world. And regardless, I'm going to get political here, regardless of what your governor says, teachers are not selfish; they are not self-centered."
Dr. Yates' remarks referred to a recent radio interview where Kentucky's governor allegedly called teachers opposing proposed pension changes as "remarkably selfish and shortsighted."
"You are all winners," Dr. Yates told the audience. "I was brought to tears with the authenticity, warmth, and fervor with which these educators were described. How blessed your communities are to have such consummate educators in your presence."
In addition to Murphy, Kathy Aileen Thweatt, a Fulton City High School science teacher, was named a finalist in the Distinguished Faculty (6th-12th grade) category. Dianne Owen, executive director of the Four Rivers Foundation, received special recognition from WKCTC President Anton Reece along with Patricia Greer, Marshall County High principal; Trent Lovett, Marshall County School District superintendent; and Donna L. Wear, Commonwealth Middle College principal.
"I'm speechless," Owen told the audience after accepting her award, "and if you knew me you would know that was very rare."
Owen has also served for decades in various roles as a teacher, superintendent, and administrator for the Four Rivers District. She has served as the director of Robbie and Lisa Rudolph's Four Rivers Foundation since 2011. "Thank you WKCTC and thank you, Robbie and Lisa, for giving me this opportunity to work with such wonderful, wonderful educators. I know that these educators are so worthy of awards. We just do what we do and we don't think about having a night like this and then I get asked to come up here and I just can't thank you enough," Owen said.
Winners and finalists were:
Distinguished Faculty (Pre-K-5th) Award
Susan K. Crawford, Murray Head Start lead teacher and center supervisor
Debbie Steele Moss, Community Christian Academy kindergarten teacher
Bailey Frances Wolfe, Concord Elementary School first grade teacher
Distinguished Faculty (6th-12th grade) Award
Gena Maley, Murray Middle School visual arts teacher
Lynn E. Pesoat, McCracken County High School art teacher
Kathy Aileen Thweatt, Fulton High School science teacher
Distinguished Administrator Award
Ellen Murphy, Fulton County High School principal
Amy Scoggins Carrico, Community Christian Academy principal
Ginger Stewart, Concord Elementary School principal
Cornelia Reece Unsung Hero Staff Award
Heather Vashti Anderson, Families in Transition coordinator for Paducah Public Schools
Lakilia S. Bedeau, director of Tornado Alley Youth Services Center for Paducah Public Schools
LeToun Shuriva Bledsoe, a custodian at Ballard County Elementary School